Big corporations have had a hard time staying out of politics, and one example is becoming an international controversy.
Now, one potential Republican presidential candidate is stepping in to do something. (Story continues below.)
The ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s sparked controversy this week when the company announced it will no longer sell ice cream in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Why? As a statement of protest against Israel.
From the company’s statement:
We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.
We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded, sending a letter to the company.
From the letter:
As you know, Florida has long had a strong relationship with the State of Israel. As a matter of law and principle, the State of Florida does not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people, including boycotts and divestments targeting Israel.
It has come to my attention that Ben & Jerry’s has announced plans to remove its products and prohibit the sale of its ice cream in Judea and Samaria. These actions taken by Ben & Jerry’s fall squarely within the prohibited activities defined by Section 215.4725(1)(a), Florida Statutes. Ben & Jerry’s is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever, a publicly traded company in which Florida holds multiple investments.
Therefore, I am requesting the State Board of Administration (SBA) immediately place Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List, and initiate the process to place Ben & Jerry’s, and by extension Unilever, on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List. Please provide an update on the status of this process to me and the other Trustees as soon as possible.
The letter goes on to say if Ben & Jerry’s does not back down, there could be real consequences.
“Should the State Board of Administration affirmatively place Unilever and its corporate entities on the Scrutinized Companies List and these companies do not cease the boycott of Israel as required by Florida law, the Board must refrain from acquiring any and all Unilever assets consistent with the law,” the letter says. “These actions affirm the State of Florida’s relationship with the State of Israel and our commitment to a swift response to those who discriminate against the Israeli people.”
The Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett also weighed in saying, “This is a moral mistake and I believe it will turn out to be a business mistake as well. The boycott against Israel… reflects that they have totally lost their way. The boycott doesn’t work and won’t work and we will fight it with all our might.”